defending Bastogne, which by this time were cut off from the rest of the corps. The outposts of the corps at Recogne (held by the 7th Tank Destroyer Group) and at Vaux-lez-Rosieres (defended by a scratch force from the 28th Division, reinforced by the 527th Engineer Light Pontoon Company) thus far had escaped the attention of an enemy moving west, not southwest. General Middleton was concerned about his open left flank and as his engineers came back ordered a barrier line formed along the Semois River. On the VIII Corps right, in the area south of Bastogne, reinforcements from the Third Army were concentrating under the command of the III Corps. The VIII Corps tactical air command post, which had been moved to Florenville on the 21st, continued to receive rumors and half-true reports of German forces turning southwest against its front, but it was fairly clear that the main threat was past.
To meet the German forces scouting and probing along the corps sector General Middleton organized a counter-reconnaissance screen. Behind this were collected stragglers and strays, many of whom had crossed the French border and got as far as Sedan. What was left of the corps artillery, mainly the 402d Field Artillery Group, assembled for tactical control and re-equipment. Other field artillery battalions, as well as tank destroyer battalions, engineer regiments, and the like, were arriving to reinforce the corps and help make good its losses. New infantry formations were on the way to restore the striking power of the corps and the Third Army commander already was planning the employmenton the offensive-of a revitalized VIII Corps.
There remained one more battle to be fought by the residue of General Cota's command, gathered around the outpost position at Vaux-lezRosieres on the Bastogne-Neufchateau road. During the night of 21 December some two hundred survivors of the 110th Infantry fight at Wiltz reached the 28th Division command post. Those who could be provided with clothes and weapons were put back into the line. Cota had in addition the engineer light pontoon company, retained as riflemen over the protests of the corps engineer, a few howitzers sited as single pieces around the village perimeter, and a platoon of self-propelled 76-mm. tank destroyers from the 602d Tank Destroyer Battalion, which had just come up from the Third Army. While the stragglers were being organized, about 0800 on the 22d, German shells commenced to burst over the perimeter. Enemy riflemen opened fire and an incautious light tank poked its nose into range of an American tank destroyer, which destroyed it. One prisoner was taken before this first flurry ended, a rifleman from the 5th Parachute Division.
The 5th Parachute Division, it will be recalled, had the mission of extending westward the cordon which the Seventh Army was to erect to forestall American counterattack against the south flank of the Fifth Panzer Army. The terminus of this extension was intended as the line Sibret-Vaux-lez-Rosieres-Martelange, at which point the 5th Parachute Division would go over to the defense. Colonel Heilmann's troops had taken Martelange, the eastern anchor for this projected line, late on the 21st while small detachments reconnoitered to the west; it was one of